Iwata's vision guides Nintendo back to number one in the video game industry

Asian tech site TechOn scored an exclusive interview with Nintendo President Satoru Iwata covering the process of how he guided Nintendo back to the number one spot in the video game console industry. At the time he became president in 2002, Nintendo was falling behind in the video game console wars behind Sony and Microsoft. The business situation looked grim as the past generation’s Nintendo 64 lost out to the original PlayStation and the Nintendo GameCube was competing poorly against the PlayStation 2. This was the situation faced by Iwata as he was appointed.

At the beginning of the interview, Iwata makes an interesting point that when he became president the general consensus was that Nintendo was doing poorly, but in reality Nintendo was doing fairly well as a company. Iwata states, “We had well over 1,000 employees, with stable consolidated revenue of Yen500 billion and operating income of Yen100 billion. No matter how you look at it, Nintendo was an outstanding corporation.” Although Nintendo was a distant third in console sales, Nintendo made it through that generation on the strength of their first-party titles based on long running series such as Zelda and Mario.

While languishing uncomfortably in third place, Iwata observed the Japanese game market was shrinking. He states, “I was astounded. A look at the results of surveys by the Computer Entertainment Supplier's Association (CESA) made it clear the Japanese game market was trending down.” Iwata believed the shrinking game market would lead to the eventual extinction of Nintendo.  This belief led Iwata to make the decision Nintendo’s overall goal would be to expand the market of who plays video games. Iwata boldly declared, “I established a company goal of expanding the gaming population. Age, gender and past gaming experience don't matter!"

Iwata believes for the player the time put in to the game needs to be rewarded. Traditional games rewarded players with fun of operating a console or a quality story. He believes Individuals who were not attracted to rewards provided by traditional games would be more accepting of games that provide new rewards such as improved health, improved memory, or a new skill.

According to Iwata, the breakthrough game that began the slow march towards expanding the traditional gaming market was Brain Training DS otherwise known as Brain Age. Employees, parents, and wives -- a non-traditional customer base -- began asking to play Brain Age because it was “fun”. Another game that helped convince Iwata Nintendo was moving in the correct direction was Mawaru Made in Wario. Mawaru Made in Wario was a game released in 2003 that featured a series of small mini-games. Iwata saw that high school girls were playing this game which was significant for him because he believed not many girls played games back then.

According to Iwata, new input methods implemented on the Nintendo DS and the Nintendo Wii came about because Nintendo wanted to ensure all users from the very young to the very old could play the games. Iwata summarizes very clearly the thinking that went in to the controls for the DS and the Wii. He stated, “We noticed that we had left a lot of important customers behind quite some time after the market began shrinking. We had to create products that would allow everyone to begin from the same starting line. This realization led to debates about new input methods, which were implemented in the DS, Wii, etc.”

This interview helps to highlight how Satoru Iwata was able to identify what was wrong with the game industry and how he provided the vision needed to guide Nintendo in a new direction. In an effort to make Iwata's vision a reality the Wiimote controller and the DS touchpad were developed providing the backbone for the success enjoyed by Nintendo today.


"Well, there may be a reason why they call them 'Mac' trucks! Windows machines will not be trucks." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

Most Popular Articles

Copyright 2018 DailyTech LLC. - RSS Feed | Advertise | About Us | Ethics | FAQ | Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information | Kristopher Kubicki